Skype, the popular VoIP communication client, has been bought by Microsoft for a whopping 8.5 billion dollars. The newly-closed deal will apparently grant the chat service greater reach, range of platforms and access to Microsoft's "portfolio of real-time communications products and services"... as well as a ready supply of Redmond money. Skype will become a new business division within its parent company.
Skype is a phenomenal service that is loved by millions of people around the world. Together we will create the future of real-time communications so people can easily stay connected to family, friends, clients and colleagues anywhere in the world. - Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
So what does this mean for us gamers? Primarily, this move secures Skype support for Kinect, Xbox 360 and Windows Phone 7... though it casts doubts over whether the PS3 and NGP will be able to get a look in. However, Microsoft promises to invest in "non-Microsoft" Skype platforms - and have nothing to gain (and a huge amount of potential licensing dosh to lose) by denying the service to their competitors.
Skype will support Microsoft devices like Xbox and Kinect, Windows Phone and a wide array of Windows devices, and Microsoft will connect Skype users with Lync, Outlook, Xbox Live and other communities. Microsoft will continue to invest in and support Skype clients on non-Microsoft platforms.
We'll keep you updated, but for a while, it will be business as usual. [Microsoft Press Centre]